Internationalag's Blog


Snorkeling in Bonito
June 23, 2010, 2:19 am
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Snorkeling and show cattle were the two class activities for the day. This morning the class loaded the bus and headed to another ranch just outside Bonito, where they offer guided river snorkeling expeditions down a 2 km (which is about 1 mile) stretch of crystal clear water. Everyone had a great time exploring the rivers aquatic ecosystem, which included fish, snails, and crabs. Below is a link to a video of our snorkeling adventure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_2hk3NJDms

After enjoying a traditional farm lunch, we discussed show cattle with the ranch’s head cattle manager. The show cattle were much friendlier and calmer than the slaughter cattle we saw yesterday. The calves enjoyed licking our hands and faces while we scratched their heads and ears. Before leaving the ranch the whole class had a chance to taste the Brazilian version of iced tea. The loose tea is mixed with cold water in a cattle horn glass, and drank through a spoon straw which filters the tea.

 

Tomorrow we head back to Dourados. Later in the week will be visiting a native reservation, waterfalls, and possibly a sugarcane mill.

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Its not all work, we have some time to play
June 22, 2010, 1:51 am
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After another bumpy ride down a Bonito dirt road, we were able to visit with one of the most successful cattle producer and farmer in the nation where he shared his knowledge with us about his operation.  We had an early start at 6:40 this morning to see the selection process for the cattle that are going to be slaughtered.  We watched the buyer sift through the cattle and the ones he selected were weighed and put into pens of twenty-five.  At this particular farm, on the days that cattle are sold the cowboys are served a feast to celebrate the sell.  We were able to partake in the feast which consisted of eggs and a rice dish that had sun dried beef. 

 

In the afternoon, we got to experience some of the agrotourism that is located in Bonito.  As a group we decided to visit the local park during our free time.  The park consisted of a portion of a river, a sand volleyball court, futbol court, and several places to eat.  Despite the chilly water, we took advantage of the rivers current and started up stream at one end of the park and floated down to the other end of the park.  It was a nice experience to bond as a group and get to know each other a little bit better.



The Cave of the Blue Lake
June 21, 2010, 3:11 am
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Today, after a short but bumpy drive, we visited the Cave of the Blue Lake. Down a steep and slippery rock trail we reached the metallic blue water. The blue color in the water comes from the sunlight, streaming down from the huge crack in the land above. There are no fish in the lake, only shrimp and other fossils. The stalagmites and stalactites with their interesting shapes and textures surrounded us as we trekked down into the cave.

Later in the evening, our class had the opportunity to interact with one of Brazil’s most endangered animals, the macaw. The presentation also included information on illegal animal trafficking and how it’s affecting the country’s endangered species’.



Welcome in Bonito
June 20, 2010, 4:22 am
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Today consisted of more traveling to the small tourist town of Bonito.  On the three hour drive to Bonito, most of our group took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep.  But for the few who did stay awake, we noticed that the landscape changed from flat land to consisting of more hills and trees.  Because Bonito is more of a tourist town, there are many fun activities that we can partake in during our free time. 

During our drive, we stopped at a barbeque place and we were happily surprised to find some food that we are use to from the United States.  After checking into the hotel we travelled to the heart of Bonito to find some dinner and do some light shopping.  The city of Bonito chose tonight to have their Festa Junina celebration, in which some of us chose to participate.  Unlike the Festa Junina in Dourados which mostly consisted of university students, the festival in Bonito was a mix of all age groups. Even little girls and boys were dressed up for the religious based dance.



First look at the native’s lifestyle
June 19, 2010, 3:18 am
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Today we had another eye-opening experience….   We started by visiting another orphanage, but this one is for boys.  They had a larger piece of land than the girls orphanage did, which allowed them to have cattle and horses.  While there the boys challenged a few from our group in table soccer which we won, but when challenged to a real game of soccer or futbol, as its called here, we were majorly defeated.  Then we spent the afternoon learning about the health care facilities that are located on the border of the reservation in Dourados.  We visited the hospital that the Native Brazilians on the reservation use and the children’s clinic that focuses mainly on child malnutrition. 

Tomorrow we will be traveling to the city of Bonito, where we are unsure if we will have internet access so there may not be a new blog until we return to Dourados.



Being Thankful
June 18, 2010, 12:41 am
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The activities today reminded the entire group to appreciate what we all take for granted. This morning our class traveled to an all girls orphanage to help in their garden and hand out gifts. The 16 girls living at the orphanage all came from abusive households around the Dourados area. The girls were extremely friendly and excited to interact with everyone, especially in photography! For lunch, we went to a traditional Brazilian steakhouse, to dine on fresh local meats. Later in the afternoon, the class visited a male homeless shelter, which is run by a Catholic church along with 12 sisters who manage the shelter. Before leaving we drank a local favorite, fresh made pineapple juice!



I didn’t know that plant could do that…..
June 17, 2010, 12:09 am
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Today we spent another day at the university, but today we got to see their horticulture and agronomy facilities.  Their main focus for their plants where the ones that are used for medical reasons.  There were plants that helped anything from a headache to diabetes.  They also had a really interesting tree that produced pods that contained seeds that when mashed creates a red dye that is used for food coloring, however some students decided to use it as war paint. 

 

While on campus there was, what is called in America, a farmers market.  The Native Brazilians set up tables with the goods they produce, which includes everything from food to jewelry.  We spent the rest of the afternoon gathering information for an assignment from the professionals on campus.  We also did some light shopping before have a delicious Brazilian dinner.